David Arens

November 25, 1933 - January 19, 2024

One of Minnesota high school's finest wrestling coaches was Dave Arens.

At Jordan High School from l961 to l968 and Bloomington - Kennedy High School from l975 to l984, Arens left his mark on the success of those two programs.

He was also one of the first coaches to build a program from the beginning. Arens formed one of Minnesota's first and most successful freestyle clubs in Bloomington in the early l970s.

His role as an age group director was instrumental in making Minnesota wrestling nationally known.

What's amazing about the coaching success of Arens is that he never competed as a wrestler.

He graduated in l951 from Our Lady of Good Council parochial school in Wilmont, Minnesota. There were only 100 students in the K-12 school.

After his family moved to Mankato, Arens got involved in wrestling. His brother, Marv, wrestled at Mankato High School for Hall of Fame coach LeVern Klar.

Dave attended Mankato State College and became a student manager for legendary Hall of Fame coach Rometo “Rummy” J. Macias. Graduating from Mankato State in l961 with a double major in biology and physical education, Arens pursued a teaching and coaching career, beginning at Jordan High School.

He says he used the basic skills he learned from Macias, who Arens said was one of the top four or five technicians in the country at that time.

"He was my idol, so-to-speak. The basic skills I learned from him provided everything for my wrestling philosophy and technique."

At Jordan High School, Arens accumulated a 66-16 record and captured the Region 4 title in l965, an amazing accomplishment for such a small school. There were 46 schools represented in the region during that "One-Class" system era. Notable schools in the region included Fridley, Anoka and Coon Rapids and others with strong wrestling programs.

In l968, Arens left Jordan to accept a national science academic foundation scholarship and attended Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia.

After earning his master's degree, Arens accepted a teaching position at Kennedy High School in Bloomington. For the next five years he coached at the junior high level, one year at Portland and four years at Oak Grove. He then served one year as assistant coach at Bloomington - Lincoln High School under Coach Tom Lampi.

In l975 he accepted the head coaching position at Kennedy High School. His work with the Bloomington Amateur Wrestling Club during his junior high coaching years in Bloomington had already produced some young wrestlers ready to enter high school when he took over as head coach at Kennedy. Those feeder programs that he developed laid the groundwork that led Kennedy to become one of the state's best programs during his era as head coach.

The Eagles placed third at the state tournament five times and won championships in 1980 and 1984. Arens coached 10 individual state champions, beginning with Brad Tufto and Chuck Vavrosky in 1979, the school's first two state champions. Dave's son, Todd, won a state title in 1980 and was followed by John Morgan, Dave Wiklund, Chris Lembeck, Danny Collins, Blake Bonjean and Dave Meir. State runner-up Marty Morgan is assistant head coach at the University of Minnesota.

Lembeck and John Morgan were college All-Americans while brothers, Gordy and John Morgan, represented the United States in Greco-Roman at the Olympics.

Dave's wife, Bara, was named Minnesota Vocational Teacher of the Year in 1975, while teaching marketing management at Dakota County Vocational College.

Dave's family has all been involved in wrestling.

Daughters, Kelli and Megan, have been stat girls to mat runners. Oldest son, Pat, was a state qualifier for his dad's team in 1977 and went on to wrestle at Bemidji State. Youngest son, Todd, captained the1980 state championship team.

A diehard worker for the sport of wrestling, Dave served as president of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association.

He was honored as Minnesota Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1984 and was inducted into the Minnesota - Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1991.


Lifetime Service to Wrestling

Our Mission: To honor the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations